Monday, May 12, 2014

Who Walks to Work?

Only 2.8 percent of workers walk to work, according to the Census Bureau. Decade after decade, walking to work has become less common, with the share falling from 5.6 percent in 1980 to 3.9 percent in 1990 and 2.9 percent in 2000. Although the 2.8 percent in the latest data (from the 2008-2012 American Community Survey) is slightly smaller than the 2.9 percent of 2000, the difference is not statistically significant, according to the bureau. This newfound stability in walking to work could be additional evidence of the growing preference for walkable communities, or it could be nothing more than a pause due to the impact of the Great Recession. What explains it? The Census Bureau report examines the demographics of walkers and offers some clues...
  • Not surprisingly, walking to work is much more common in cities than in suburbs or nonmetropolitan areas. In cities, 4.3 percent of workers walk to work. In the suburbs, the figure is 2.4 percent. In nonmetropolitan areas, only 1.9 percent of workers commute by walking.
  • Walking to work is most common among workers under age 25 (6.8 percent) and bottoms out in middle age (1.9 percent).
  • Walking to work is far more common in households with incomes below $25,000 (more than 5 percent of workers walk) and lowest in households with incomes between $100,000 and $149,999 (1.5 percent of workers walk). A larger 2.1 percent of workers walk in households with incomes of $200,000 or more.
  • By educational attainment, walking to work is highest among the least educated. Among workers without a high school diploma, 3.7 percent walk to work. Walking is least common among workers with some college (1.7 percent), then rises to 2.7 percent among workers with a graduate degree.
The demographics reveal two types of workers who commute by walking—those who can't afford a car (young adults, low-income households, the least educated) and those who can afford to live in the nation's increasingly popular and pricey walkable communities.

Source: Census Bureau, Modes Less Traveled—Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008-2012

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